FONTANA (CBSLA) — The recent spike in coronavirus cases has forced San Bernardino County officials to start getting the National Orange Show Events Center ready to be used as an emergency hospital.

“We are beginning, for the first time, to move into what we refer to as surge capacity,” Dr. Troy Pennington, an emergency room doctor at Arrowhead Regional.

Pennington said many county hospitals were reaching capacity — just one or two intensive care unit beds away from moving COVID-19 patients into overflow areas.

As of Friday, San Bernardino County reported 11,290 total cases and 248 deaths. More than 4,000 of the county’s total cases have been reported in the past two weeks — a frustrating return to the spikes of April.

“Now we’re back to where we started,” Pennington said.

The only difference is that doctors have started reporting the largest increases in much younger patients.

“Those 18-49 seem to be the highest rated increase,” Curt Hagman, chair of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, said.

County leaders said they believe many of the new cases were caused by Memorial Day weekend gatherings, recent protests, the relaxed use of face coverings and more businesses reopening.

Brian Katilus, who lives in Ladera Ranch, said he thinks the coronavirus pandemic was not a real threat, but a political ploy.

“I think it’s all a scam and a joke,” he said, noting that neither he nor his family wear face coverings.

But David Badivangia said his family was still taking all the same precautions they took in March.

“People are dying,” he said. “I don’t know what’s fake about that. I don’t wanna be any part of making it worse.”

And on Friday, the county was placed on the state’s watch list. If the stress on the hospital system continues to increase, the state could recommend that businesses shut down once again.

“I know we gotta get our economy going, but I thought it was too soon,” Badivangia said.

Officials reminded people, again, that face coverings were necessary any time people were out in public and unable to remain physically distant from other people.

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